Friday, August 1, 2014

CASSETTE REVIEW: Shivering Window vs. The Cthulhus (Juniper Tree Songs)

                For those like me who have been keeping up with Juniper Tree Songs, neither of these two bands should be much of a surprise to you.    Not only should you already own cassettes by both of them, odds are that you also own more than one cassette by Shivering Window.   What’s interesting is that while I’ve been somewhat more up to date on the Shivering Window side of things, I haven’t heard a lot about The Cthulhus again until now and thought that they were inactive.

                As a split, these two sides are similar in a lo-fi rock n roll sense, but on the whole they couldn’t be more different.   Shivering Window is broken down into different songs, while The Cthulhus are constrained by one long song.   This is a cassette, so you do have to keep in mind that the 4 to 1 ratio of songs means someone is either having four really short numbers of someone is having a rather long single.

                Shivering Window offers up what appears to be an acoustic set in the sense of a stripped down acoustic guitar and vocals only.   Musically, this brings comparisons out for me of that one live CD Foo Fighters did called “Skin and Bones”, which had a most amazing titular song that I can hear somehow in this Shivering Window set, and it also somehow recalls Nada Surf for me but don’t ask me quite how.  (Side Note: I once watched a video on YouTube of Nada Surf performing in a record store or book store or coffee shop or somewhere smaller like that as an acoustic two piece and that may or may not be where this notion comes from)

                For some reason, within these Shivering Window songs I also can hear this haunting vibe that for whatever idea brings out Scooby Doo to me.  While I realize Scooby Doo is a big part of my day to day life (Casey Kasem just died and his body is missing, their WWE crossover is on Cartoon Network this weekend, I have a two and a half year old, etc.), this seems to be a little bit something more than just what is out of the norm.

                I also need to take a minute to let you know that even though I have heard Shivering Window a good number of times (Go ahead, count the cassette reviews), every time I’m about to review the music I never go back and read a past review so I never know quite what I’m going into other than that I’m pretty sure it will both rock and be good.    What I’m saying is that I never think in the back of my mind, “Oh yeah, this is that band that sounds like Smashing Pumpkins”, or some other band, and that’s a good thing because it keeps it fresh.   I have never felt as if I’m listening to “yet more songs from Shivering Window”, but rather I’m hearing them again for the first time.

                And hey, guess what?   We have an entire second side dedicated to The Cthulhus, and no, I didn’t go back to read their prior review either going into this one.    Even though this is one song, I feel that it does change enough at times that you could divide it up into a few different songs, but again, I’ve never been one to be told how to divide my reviews or anything so I won’t tell anyone how to divide their songs.

                The sound on this song comes off right away sounding to me like “Smells Like Children” era Marilyn Manson.    Little Known Fact:  I actually bought that CD when it came out, but got the L7 covers version and had no idea what was going on because this was all before what the internet is now with Google and all.   I actually let my at the time girlfriend borrow that CD and, hence, I haven’t seen it since and, yeah, that was all within the year it was released.    While I’ve listened to some Marilyn Manson songs that came out prior to that up till now and then, obviously, songs that came after that even since, I haven’t really listened to “Smells Like Children”- the real version- all that much, despite my seemingly constant referencing of it.   (Okay, now I’m going to put it on when this review is done.   Watch my Spotify tell you as such)

                Beeping loops take us through most of this music as well, which is nice because it’s not overly obnoxious and it just seems to fit in and flow well.   I kind of sense these undertones of Queen, or at least the specific song of Queen that they did with David Bowie, which thus reminds me of Robin Williams jumping into a pool naked.  (Check out the movie “World’s Greatest Dad” if you haven’t already)     The song does pick up the pace a little bit, and oddly enough it does so with the help of a church type organ, which yeah, sounds funny when you think that just in the last paragraph I was mentioning Marilyn Manson.

                We have some Beck come out and even a little bit of that Doors vibe before the end, but this just ends up being a solid song by The Cthulhus with a lot going on obviously.   I’m not sure if the band was reborn for this split or what, but I’d really like to hear more from them in the future and maybe even have a proper full length cassette release by next year.   That shouldn’t be too much to ask, now should it?

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